Christian Brothers High School

      Obesity is a growing epidemic, especially in modern American society.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about one third of all adults in the United States are obese and the number of adolescents considered obese has tripled in the last twenty years.  These staggering statistics suggest that the problem of obesity is not going away, but is in fact becoming worse.

      What is obesity in the technical sense?  Obesity is defined as anyone either 100 pounds overweight or with a BMI of over 40.  People who suffer from obesity have a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and even some cancers, including colon and breast cancer.  Obesity is also a leading cause for depression in the United States.  Some people become obese due to a sedentary lifestyle, overeating or just eating extremely unhealthily, and even drinking too much.  However, these are all things that can be prevented, and therefore, some people can control whether or not they become obese.

            On the other hand, some people are born without specific hormones and chemicals in their body that are necessary for maintaining a healthy weight, which leads to obesity.   These conditions are genetic, and so biotechnologists are working toward finding treatments for such patients to give them a chance at a healthy life. 

            Some common genetic causes of obesity include being born without the ability to produce a hormone called leptin, which is a hormone that tells the body when it is full and to stop eating.  Another cause of obesity is when a person does not produce enough insulin because insulin helps harden fat molecules and store the fat where it is most needed and most healthy for the body.  This lack of insulin causes the fat molecules to store in unhealthy places in the body as well as diabetes. 

            Biotechnologists hope to develop cures for these genetic causes in the next couple of years by building on their knowledge of how genetics play a role in obesity.  They hope to discover new ways of helping the body find supplements for the hormones and chemicals the body lacks in the form of pills or injections.


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